A quiet life.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Nathan W. Pyle

So much time seems to have passed — a whole year in the span of a few days. The kind of days that, before, I would throw around like spare change, like a clump of sand into the ocean.

I remember the first few days of confinement though, the thick anxiety coiling in me, twisting like a constrictor trying to swallow its meal. There were conversations with myself about death, to death, as I waited on someone else’s results to seal my fate and that of those around me. But I won’t tell of this in any more detail, not here at least. The world has enough anxiety to go on these days.

Instead, I want to tell you all about my first day of liberation. The feeling you get when you loosen your hair and feel the headache simply dissolve into waves, when you burst out of a stuffed room, when you let tears finally fall. A large clothes basket, heavy against my waist, tethered me to the balcony with a scent of freshness and Dutch lavender. All around, a surreal quietness had fallen on all things, the way the sun had. Not a shout from the neighbours, not a sound of feet moving or even the putter of a motorcycle that city-dwellers are usually so fond of. Instead, birdsong drizzled over silence, pooling over housetops. The wind blew, unbothered. Rising softly from the basket, the clothes-hill was cool and fragrant and for a moment, for all of life, I wanted to climb inside of it. Into that inviting cleanliness, that purity where lavender fields bloomed ceaselessly, uncaring of seasons and cycles.

I picked a sheet, bewitched instantly by the way it swelled, caught in the murmurs of the wind, the sounds of a quiet life.

What’s keeping me here? 

What if I were to just…let go? Would it be so easy? Would I finally go to that place where the birds all travel to at sunset, this place I have always known of, wondered about but have never reached?

The wind was pushing me from behind, lifting the back of my ample shirt. I was holding the sheet so it would not fly away, but what was holding me back? A job? Expectations? Fear?

I want to let it all go.

And I did.

I closed my eyes and let the sun warm my heart, banish the last few strands of anxiety wiggling about. I let the wind take me away, eyes closed, into the unknown, the unknown that leads straight home.

Note: It’s been a while! I hope you are all doing well and keeping safe during these frankly unsettling times. Where I am, we are under total lockdown, which means we can’t go out unless it’s to go to the hospital or the pharmacy. And we have a curfew. So it’s been a strange, long week. How’s the situation where you are?

Quote of the day

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

— Jack Kerouac, On The Road


Art by : Alexandra Levasseur

I am having too many thoughts again.

All of them orbit around my head day and night, at their own paces, each one with their own sunsets, their individual low and high tides. I feel like the lamplighter in The Little Prince, who lights and puts out the street lamp on his planet some 1440 times every day.

There is not much time for anything else. As I tend to these overgrown thoughts, all else falls into a corner of neglect and I worry even more.

And that’s the problem isn’t it?

I am unable to dedicate myself wholly to one thing. Worry nags in the back of my mind, creating bumps in a moment that otherwise flows like river-water. I do not allow myself be taken by the moment. There’s just too much going on, too much to worry about. And I feel guilty if I don’t worry. I feel guilty for enjoying myself when I should be working to get things done.

It’s like kissing someone while thinking about someone else.

Evicted out of the present moment, I am neither here nor there. Instead, I watch on the situation, worrying, gnawing at my nails.

I have so much to catch up on that I act like every moment not spent working on my problems is a stolen one. I feel guilty for living in the moment, for not being busy.

And that, that is how I, how we lose inner peace.

By giving worries more rights and power than they deserve.

I mean, I cannot do everything now. There are too many stories, too many people, too many musings and anecdotes and each deserves their rightful share.

After all, how am I supposed to split one second into the many, endless fractions I need? How do I find infinity in what is hopelessly ephemeral?

Quote of the day :

“I would have you consider your judgement and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.”

—Kahlil Gibran, On Reason and Passion, The Prophet

Doing the thing anyway.

young adult old soul magic realism writing

A list of things I have done but have been unable to write about:

  • Dyed my hair purple
  • Attended a writing workshop
  • Signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
  • Attended a good friend’s wedding

Some, more than others, were impulse decisions. Eff-it moments when I decided my fears didn’t matter, recognising somewhere that I would be more myself once I had discarded them, because my fears aren’t necessarily me. Not when they stop me from doing what I really want.

So, hey, purple hair. Writing workshop. Volunteering every Saturday night with a group of young people I don’t really know. Yay.

Needless to say, I regret it all at least once a week.

In the mirror I see copper-brown strands, the purple long washed-away. I tug at it self-consciously and wish my hair could be all black again. Every Saturday evening, I am quietly quivering at the notion of having to interact with a group of young people who are all friends, whilst I am a new addition.

I’m always wishing I hadn’t done any of it. Because after my one moment of foolish bravery is over, my fears are back at my side again, nagging. My anxiety finds something to keep me up at night, to convince me that I am wrong to not be panicking.

Still, I am not dyeing my hair black. I even catch myself liking the glint of the sun on these select light-brown strands of hair.

Still, I am calling every Saturday to know where the group is meeting up. And when one homeless person gushes about how the macaroni we served were the best he’s ever had, or when another takes some for his two daughters, I’m happy I was there to help.

My fear wishes I hadn’t done any of it. But I, I keep doing it anyway. I keep moving forward, and discarding fear like yesterday’s fashion. I regret and complain and most of all, I know better. I understand that who I want to be takes precedence over any anxiety I might have. My time is limited, am I really going to spend it all cowering?

Quote of the day : 

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

—Mary Schmich


A fresh start.

young adult old soul writing magic realism escapril
Prompts by Escapril

I awake some days to already stale mornings, like coffee left out from the night before and smoke breaks in inadequately ventilated spaces.

The pounding headache from 2 a.m. insomnia clawing at the scar on my brow, burning retinas, millisecond blackouts, unsteady feet and foul moods — I carry over the acrid taste of yesterday and days before as though some thick paste of regret I can neither scrape off my tongue nor swallow past.

I stumble through the day, hiding from the sun and thoughts that blare an unforgiving light, the kind that exposes all the things you want to conceal. Setting out, I already know that all I want to do is be back home already and wallow, sleep it out until the next day.

Yeah, some days you know in advance it’s going to be a bad one. Still, I think it’s okay to allow yourself that sometimes. Time to wallow, to indulge in some of the pain and ache. Not always in a rush to fix things or to look on the bright side, to not let the day go to waste, to turn the day around. It’s a process, it takes time.

That’s why I think it’s important to let yourself acknowledge the bad parts too. It’s important to complain and wallow sometimes. After all, you cannot hope to heal when you don’t know where it hurts and why.

Note : A little while back, I found out about this month-long poetry/prose/flash fiction challenge called Escapril, and which proposes the most wonderful prompts. Now, it is unlikely that I will be able to do a prompt a day. But you can look forward to reading some posts inspired by these writing prompts(I already have my eye on a few of them lol). Today’s post quite coincidentally matches the first day theme and boy am I glad for it. Anyway, you can find out more about Escapril on their Instagram page!


Unraveling anxiety

“Anxiety, I have learned too many times, feels like choking on fear.”

Art by : Manjit Thapp

Quietly, the cold dread seeps in.

And my heart, like a cup in the sink, drinks, drinks, drinks….until it drops, sunken, to the bottom. The glacial dampness seizes my throat, clouds my head and I swallow around it.

I thought, I thought I had it under wraps. I thought, a thought too much an accusation, that I was getting better now. But my heart has sunk to my feet, dragging everything in its passage. Lungs, stomach, even my veins feel weighed down, crushed under some leaden weight. Where a void emerges in my chest now, the cold dread fills it in, and colours outside the lines.

Anxiety, I have learned too many times, feels like choking on fear.

Shuddering breaths enter and leave my body and I forget the 4-7-8 that helps so well. Yet the fog in my head won’t clear, will not be shaken off. It’s not long before my eyes, too, turn cloudy. It’s never this huge explosion though, and that may be the worst part of it all. Anxiety gears up, perpetually, for something that never comes to pass. It constantly renews a state of turmoil, churns old fears anew. So, an hour later, my heart has still not settled. Racing, still. Like me, it tries to run away from problems, to leap out of my chest— but it cannot run from itself, just like I cannot.

An hour later finds me pacing — a quiet release. Up and down, around the same streets, I am shuffling. It soothes my brain somehow and subtly releases some of the fog from behind my eyes, clears the veil of smoke obstructing my view.

Breathe. Breathe.

An hour later, like many other days, like countless other moments like these, finds me at the beach. Deliverance comes in all soft, crashing waves and the sharp, the grounding tang of salt, the sea breeze, the trees that sway in a comforting, lulling rustle.

Breathe. Breathe.

And I do.

I force myself to see beyond the fog. To become the lighthouse that guides a keeling boat to safety as the storm rages on. I breathe and draw out patterns from the sand, swishing my foot sideways, leaving behind shaky archs and footprints beneath. And the sea, crashing, reborn every few minutes, perpetually setting itself back together, plucks at the tangles in my body. With every soft crash, my heart rate slows and Anxiety unravels under the pale, warm sunlight. All the fog has vanished into the sea, whisked away by the salt spray and the smell of iodine. Anxiety comes undone a half-hour later, nothing now but a soft tiredness cloaking my bones. The boat that rocked dangerously is now safely brought to shore, swaying from the aftershock.


You Will Heal (Life Gets Better, So Hang In There)

“I don’t know if you were expecting a story of how I’d fallen in love with the most wonderful person, someone who understands my struggles and all the depth and darkness. Something poetic like : “He saw her sitting alone in the darkness and instead of shining a light on her, quietly sat down beside her and held her hand, waiting the darkness out.” But this is not that kind of story. “

Art by: Pride Nyasha

I sat down today on the same sofa I had sat on 5 years previously, when I believed with everything I had that nothing would ever get better.

A scrawny, withdrawn teenager then, I tried not to exist too obviously, too loudly. I felt I was nothing but all this anxiety raging inside of me, nothing but a receptacle for people’s dirty looks, their pity and yet sometimes amazingly, their jealousy. 5 years ago, I was fading out of existence, a process furthered by the discovery of human nature’s seedy underbelly. When I was finally allowed a look into an adult’s world, I decided I wanted nothing to do with it. But by then, it was a door I was practically being pushed through.

5 years ago, I was what? 15, 16? Oscillating between wanting nothing and needing it all. At the time, all hope had fled. Had spilled out on the pillow in silent midnight cries. I don’t really have hope now, either. But I have the belief that maybe one day, I could have it, and this makes all the difference. And between that ‘no‘ and this ‘maybe‘, stand 5 years and more than a few battles fought alone, to exhaustion. There were fears faced, comfort zones expanded.

I’ll get away from here, I thought, because as a teenager, that’s a totally legitimate plan to have.

But life had other plans. So I’m still here 5 years later.

I don’t know if you were expecting a story of how I’d fallen in love with the most wonderful person, someone who understands my struggles and all the depth and darkness. Something poetic like : “He saw her sitting alone in the darkness and instead of shining a light on her, quietly sat down beside her and held her hand, waiting the darkness out.” But this is not that kind of story. There was no flip. No plot twist. No one to rescue you.

It was mostly a ton of effort. Unsexy, unromantic, stinky effort.

Though I did meet good people. People who might’ve guessed at all the things I hid, but who never wanted to pry. People who were decent, who were funny and didn’t frown at my quirks, and who thought I was kindof cool, actually. People who apologised when they were late, who asked you to message them to let them know you got home safely. People who celebrated your achievements, who would drag you out of hiding and shine the light of recognition on you because take credit for your accomplishments, damn it.

I’ve got some ways to go still.

But 5 years ago, I sat on the same sofa and was another person. 5 years ago, the world was ending, in more ways than one. Today though, I am sitting here, writing, humming the melody of a waltz from a movie I love very much. My breath is light with the scent of peach iced tea and I am relishing the silence, being grateful for the time I am given.

These days, given the right opportunities, I also open up a little. Inconsequential things, stories stripped of too much emotion and detail, but spoken into the atmosphere still. These stories might just be rubble compared to the complex structures I keep inside, but it means that there is a bridge, nonetheless. That trade is open. I squirrel away parts of my story, bits and pieces that don’t connect. I am not doing ‘good’ really, but I am doing better. And in the end, I think that’s all anyone can hope for.

Hang in there, life gets better. And you want to be there to see it happen.

Note: This is Day  22 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. This is also something I want to dedicate to a good friend, a soul sister, really, who’s going through some rough times. Just hang in there, people, it really does get better. If you liked this entry, you can also check out yesterday’s entry here, which is a little more on the cheerier side of life 🙂

Not Okay

“How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal?”

Art by: Loony

“How long has it been since you’ve been loved? Since you’ve been seen for who you truly are? How long have you been hiding—cutting off pieces of yourself and burying them in places no one would find them? How long have you been scared of people finding out about your story? How many times have you wished they would? How many more times do you need to ache to understand that this isn’t normal? These memories, these bookmarks of your story—if you bury them, they will only grow.  And like baobabs, their roots will find their way to your heart. They will entrench themselves so profoundly that they will take over. Until one day, you will not even see the blueness of the sky. How long until this carefully constructed lie falls apart and you realise how empty you’ve made yourself?”


Note: This is Day 17 of my NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. You can read the entry for Day 16 here. If you enjoyed this, I’ve also written about similar themes previously.

You’re Not Done Yet

“You will feel love again, and light. There will be laughter again, as light and free as the sea breeze and contentment as deep as the oceans. “

Art by: 93.Minho

You’re not done feeling.

You may have gone through pitch-black darkness believing it would never end, but you’re not done feeling yet. This is not it. The darkness cannot take that from you. It may have temporarily blinded you, but this veil will one day drop.

There is a world out there, you know. With the most glorious kind of light—golden and warm. Pink and honey-coloured skies at sunset. There are colours you will see with your eyes closed, sparks that will tingle underneath your skin. You aren’t done feeling. The darkness that has shrouded your heart did not obscure all of it. It could not possibly have, even if there are days when it feels that it has, it has.  Because there’s always more room. Always, always room for more in your heart.

You will feel love again, and light. There will be laughter again, as light and free as the sea breeze and contentment as deep as the oceans.

And one day, one day, there will be hope too.

You have so much to feel yet. Trust me, there is more to the palette than just black, and more to life than just despair.

Note: Day 7 of ‘NaNoWriMo’




We’ve made it to Day 7! I almost can’t believe it. Today’s entry almost didn’t happen, too. Yet here we are ❤ I hope you’ve been enjoying this little challenge as much as I have, because there’s more to come yet 🙂

Soft, soft…

Art by: Loony

Too often when they speak of saving,
they trust in guns and violence,
fire and smoke.

But what of the saving you do
when you hold a trembling hand in yours?
When you sit and listen,
when you humble yourself
and let the soft-spoken speak?

What of the saving that is done in softness?
A kind word pressed between pages,
unhurried like the clouds,
gentle as the smell of perfume when the sun is out.

What of the lives you save by being not brave, but kind?

Let these tender thoughts grow

“See, not all thoughts are flowers, not all thoughts bloom. Some thoughts grow tough and gnarly— they are bad ideas, self-destructive seeds that some other voice planted in your brain. “


Photo by: Brandon Stanciell

Not all thoughts are good, I’ve been thinking.

Thoughts may just be like a horse’s hooves, if you don’t trim them, they hurt. If you leave them be, they grow so much that every step is pain until, eventually, all movement stops.

It’s important to look after your thoughts, to groom them as they grow. Some people may say that you are cutting off a part of yourself, but that’s not true. Sometimes, being yourself requires upkeep. See, not all thoughts are flowers, not all thoughts bloom. Some thoughts grow tough and gnarly— they are bad ideas, self-destructive seeds that some other voice planted in your brain. These kinds of thoughts are toxic and demand constant attention. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but if there are many saplings in a single patch of land, then they will all fight to reach the sun. The tougher ones will close in on the tenderer sprouts, suffocating them and burying them alive while they drink up the sun and thrive and thrive and thrive. The same happens to thoughts. So they must be pruned and sheared so that the softer, vulnerable thoughts have a chance to grow.

Weeds will always grow in any garden, whether that be in the one behind your house or the one you keep in your head. But you need only pluck them out and let these tender thoughts breathe again.